March 6, 2019 - The 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made significant changes to federal tax laws. Generally, the federal tax changes reduced tax rates and broadened the tax base (what is subject to tax). Because the state’s income tax laws closely refer to large portions of federal law, many of those changes created new differences between federal and state taxes. State law currently does not adopt—or conform to—any of the federal changes made in 2017. This report assesses the arguments for and against conforming to ten of those major changes. (Five of these conformity provisions are included in the Governor's proposal.)
November 16, 2007 - Tax expenditure programs (TEPs) are features of the tax code—including credits, deductions, exclusions, and exemptions—that enable a targeted set of taxpayers to reduce their taxes relative to what they would pay under a “basic” tax-law structure. The state’s TEPs number in the hundreds and are valued in the tens of billions of dollars annually, and are used mostly to encourage certain types of behavior or provide financial assistance to taxpayers. This report provides information on newly enacted TEPs and reviews selected existing TEPs as to their effectiveness and efficiency. One of these is the mortgage interest deduction, valued at about $5 billion yearly. This program is found to be an inefficient means of promoting home ownership, and options are offered for improving it, including capping the deduction amount or replacing it with a targeted tax credit.
October 31, 2017 - California Competes awards income tax credits to attract or retain businesses considering a significant new investment in California. In this report, we reviewed California Competes’ experience to date in meeting the Legislature’s goals for the program.
February 1, 2021 - In this report, we offer the Legislature guidance on how to evaluate fiscal stimulus proposals. We pose six key questions to ask when assessing specific proposals and provide specific elements that can be incorporated into proposals to increase their potential effectiveness.
March 18, 2013 - Presented to Assembly Revenue and Taxation, and Housing and Community Development Committees
December 1, 1985 - Assembly Bill 2893 required the Legislative Analyst's office to submit to the Legislature a report on alternative energy equipment investments in California. This report must evaluate the measure's effects on both state revenues and taxpayers, determine the conditions under which the investment incentive of rapid amortization is maximized, and provide data on the number and kind of alternative energy equipment facilities that have been established in California.
February 21, 2018 - The Governor proposes extending the California Competes tax credit for five years. We recommend rejecting the administration’s proposal to extend the California Competes tax credit because of problems that are inherent in and unavoidable for these types of programs. If the Legislature chooses to extend California Competes, we offer several suggestions that may alleviate some of its problems.
February 20, 2019 - In this report, we describe the Governor’s proposed $1.75 billion appropriation for various programs aimed at improving the affordability of housing in the state. Specifically, the Governor proposes (1) providing planning and production grants to local governments, (2) expanding the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, (3) establishing a new state housing tax credit program targeting relatively higher-income households, and (4) expanding a loan program for middle-income housing production.
December 30, 2003 - The value of the EZC program is quite dependent on the goals that the Legislature wishes to achieve. Available evidence generally indicates that EZ incentives have little if any impact on the creation of new economic activity or employment. On the other hand, EZ incentives do appear to be effective in increasing economic activity within smaller geographic areas—such as within metropolitan regions.
February 6, 2009 - To assist the Legislature in resolving the 2009‑10 budget gap, we developed a list of proposals that would raise more than $5 billion in each of 2009‑10 and 2010‑11. Our proposed options include eliminating or modifying 12 tax expenditure programs for a savings of $1.7 billion over the next two years. In general, these recommendations are based on our conclusion that these programs lack a strong rationale or are not sufficiently effective or efficient in achieving their stated goals. We also identify two targeted rate increases—increasing the vehicle license fee (VLF) to 1 percent and a three-year temporary PIT surcharge—that, combined, would raise $3.4 billion in 2009‑10 and $3.5 billion in 2010‑11. These options could be considered by the Legislature in lieu of any of the Governor’s revenue-related proposals. We believe these proposals have merit, both for tax policy reasons (for example, the VLF increase would result in all property in California taxed at the same rate) and for reducing the net impact of any rate increases on taxpayers (as both the VLF and PIT are deductible for federal tax purposes).
May 17, 2016 - The Governor’s May Revision proposes changes to state law to streamline local government approval of certain housing. This proposal has the potential to be an important step toward addressing California’s housing shortage. We believe it warrants serious consideration from the Legislature. We also suggest the Legislature consider expanding eligibility for streamlining to facilitate more new housing, as well as making other changes to strengthen the proposal’s effectiveness.
December 1, 1988 - The purpose of this report is to provide information which will assist the Legislature in reviewing the state's tax expenditure budget, including making decisions regarding which individual TEPs should be retained, renewed, modified, or eliminated.
March 30, 2020 - California Competes is an economic development tax incentive program that allows the administration to negotiate tax credit agreements with individual companies that agree to meet multiyear hiring and investment targets. In this report we provide background information about the California Competes program and the changes that the Legislature made in 2018. Next, we describe the effects of these changes on the program in 2018‑19, the first year of their implementation. We then assess how the changes have affected the administration of the California Competes program and consider whether it is more or less effective than before. Lastly, looking forward, we suggest working to find ways to expand the pool of qualified applicants and advise the Legislature to continue its oversight of the program.
June 1, 1985 - In 1980, the California Legislature enacted AB 1404 (Chapter 1328, Statutes of 1980), which shortened the time period over which certain cogeneration equipment can be depreciated for California tax purposes. Specifically, AB 1404 provides that certain cogeneration equipment placed in service before January 1, 1986, can be depreciated over either a one-year or five-year period when the equipment is located in-state, and over a five-year period when the equipment is located out-of-state. Prior to AB 1404, the amortization period for cogeneration equipment corresponded to the useful economic life of the equipment. This could be as much as 20 years or more.